Joseph Lieberman has crossed the aisle to endorse the presidential candidacy of his good friend — and fellow Senate Iraq war hawk — John McCain.
The two have plenty in common — including a willingness to buck their parties on occasion: Lieberman on Iraq, and other issues; McCain on global warming, campaign finance reform and more. In his endorsement speech in New Hampshire, Lieberman stressed the importance of putting the national interest ahead of party politics
One question is whether an endorsement from the self-proclaimed “independent Democrat” will help or hurt McCain with his party’s faithful. The Associated Press’s Jennifer Loven writes, “the endorsement carries the risk of alienating conservatives who have been critical of his support for immigration and campaign finance reforms.”
In New Hampshire though, as the AP notes, independents are allowed to vote in the party primaries. Lieberman and the emphasis on bridging the partisan divide could help McCain with this key constituency. (And, in any case, it would be hard for McCain’s GOP opponents to nail him over an endorsement from a Democrat who is well regarded by many Republicans.)
The decision, however, of the Democrats’ 2000 vice-presidential nominee to endorse a Republican — while hardly surprising — is certainly striking (as, of course, was Democratic primary voters’ rebuke of Lieberman in his Senate reelection bid). Democrats, it goes without saying, are not pleased with Lieberman’s latest move — even dyed-in-the-wool centrists “I am very saddened by Senator Lieberman’s choice and profoundly disagree with it,” said Al From, founder and CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council. “We need to elect a Democratic president in 2008.”
But, it seems, Lieberman’s endorsement may have been of more use to McCain than it would have been to any of the Democratic hopefuls, who are currently competing over who has the strongest anti-Bush bona fides. The AP reports:
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Democrat Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, said he had intended to wait until after the primaries to make a choice for the 2008 presidential race. But McCain asked for his support and no Democrat did.
UPDATE: Lieberman detractors are pointing to this remark, made by the Connecticut senator during a debate with his 2006 Senate race opponent Ned Lamont: